It can be frustrating to try and teach your teen to be grateful. They will resist. Teens today feel entitled rather than appreciative, selfish rather than considerate, and expectant rather than grateful, so getting them to turn all of that around and show gratitude is not an easy undertaking, but it is possible, and there are things you can do to make the process easier on yourself.
First, focus on the positive:
It is easy to get caught up in all the times your teen should have shown gratitude and did not. However, instead of worrying about that, think about the times they did, praise them for it, and encourage more of it. As you focus on the good things they do, they will start to respond to that, and do more of them. So, while it is not easy, it does produce good results.
Second, praise even the small stuff:
With teenagers, learning gratitude comes as a process, and often it is a difficult one because as a parent it is hard to be grateful for many of the things your teen does. Most learning is done by seeing examples, so if you want to help your teen be more grateful, start looking for opportunities to show them gratitude. This means pay attention to the small stuff. For example, if they clear their dishes after dinner, while you might think that this is expected, and does not deserve gratitude, it is a good thing to praise. Thank them for doing so, and show them sincere gratitude. Chances are they will continue to do that, and more. This will teach them that gratitude can be shown for small as well as large gestures.
Third, be the big example:
While all of these steps seem similar, the fact is that your teen is only going to remember to show gratitude if it is something they see and hear all of the time. So, be the person that is making showing gratitude a prevalent part of their life, as it will reinforce the importance, and help establish habits of gratitude in them as well.
Fourth, show how good it is:
Giving other people opportunities to be grateful can be very enjoyable. Helping others can be very fulfilling, and if you can show your teen through example how enriching it is, they’ll start to make an association between helping someone else and their own joy, and it will remind them that it really is the thought that counts. Soon, they will be more considerate, which eventually leads to more grateful.
Fifth, give opportunity for gratitude:
If you want to teach your teen to be grateful, the easiest way to do this is to help them recognize what it is that they have to be grateful for. Reiterate in conversations, actions, and more the things that your teen has to be grateful for. For example, turn on the news and discuss the stories that may help your teen see what they have to be grateful for. For example, if there is a story about starving children, your teen might be more grateful for the food they have to eat. If there is a story about natural disasters wiping out people’s homes, they may be more grateful for their own. Basically, take advantage of others to help you reinforce gratitude in your child, and give them opportunities to serve those less fortunate so that they recognize their own blessings more readily.